28 Jun

Setting up a marijuana market, Oregon better provide some

The state of Oregon hasn’t quite worked out its new identity as a dope dealer.
So here’s a hint: It’s all about hooking your customers up.

Possessing marijuana becomes legal in Oregon at the start of next month. But the state won’t have its recreational retail outlets in operation until sometime next year.
And the legislature is uncertain about allowing its current legal sellers, medical marijuana dispensaries, to sell to recreational users until then.

Here’s a lesson from where the bud market meets business school: If you don’t supply customers, someone else will.

Reluctant legislators may be holding too closely to the model of the state-controlled liquor business. But if the state figures that Sunday night is a bad time to sell bourbon, it’s not like there’s a guy on the street corner to sell you a bottle of Jim Beam.

There is, of course, what you might call a thriving private market in marijuana. It’s not clear how successful the state will ever be in replacing that; after Washington state’s legalization, the Seattle private market seems as strong as ever, and state outlets seem to sell largely to tourists.

But if a state legalizes pot, it better be ready to sell some.

In a marijuana market, the key word isn’t marijuana; it’s market.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 6/27/15.

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